10.08.2005
 
Puck Periodic
  • James Mirtle recaps some of last night's action. In talking about Hurricane rookie netminder, Cam Ward, Mirtle writes:
    Ward was fantastic for his not-so-stellar defensively club, turning away 28 of 30 shots. Until Zigmund Palffy scored with 1:24 remaining, it looks as though the 21-year-old from Saskatoon would win his first NHL game in regulation.

    Incidentally, Ward finished as the runner-up as CHL player of the year in 2003-04, the first time Crosby won the award. Ward was a phenomenal goaltender in the WHL for the Red Deer Rebels and a first round, 25th-overall pick in 2002.
  • Mirtle has some thoughts on the Florida/Tampa Bay game as well, and he points out that Roberto Luongo is a strong Hart Trophy candidate. I caught much of this game, and I must say that the Lightning played completely flat for the entire game. Call it Banner Ceremony Hangover, but the Bolts were terrible. They slept through this game until the Panthers took a 1-0 lead with just 2:27 remaining in the third. These two teams play the second of a home and home tonight, and I expect the spring to be back into Tampa Bay's step.

  • One guy that really looked great in that FLA/TB game was 19 year old Rostislav Olesz. This young Czech forward (note to Yahoo Sports, 1989 was a long time ago). showed great poise and balance last night. He's big for his age, 6'1, 205, and was just a force for the entire match. Both his hockeysfuture and TSN bio pages talk about Olesz's character and two-way game. He was the Panthers' 7th overall pick in the first round of the 2004 draft. I'm surprised Jes Golbez has nothing on him, although he's Czech and not Slovak, so maybe it's not so surprising.

  • An interesting note from E.J. Hradek:
    The league's pro scouts have circled the northeast corridor for the first week of the season because they can as many as four games in first four nights of the new campaign. Each club is scrambling to find out about their competition around the circuit. A check of the opening night rosters reveals that there are more than 100 players with little or no NHL experience.
  • Battle of Alberta likes what he's seen in the Flames' young defenseman, Dion Phaneuf. And poster 'sacamano', at that same site, is impressed with Oilers center Jarret Stoll. I saw most of Edmonton's opener and I agree that Stoll was looked "so comfortable working the blue line on the powerplay."

  • Nice article here from the Globe and Mail titled, "In the new NHL, no lead is safe."
    “If you now have the lead, you have to take the attitude of trying to extend the lead rather than sitting back and protecting the lead. I like the concept. It has made the game more attractive.”

    In the 2003-04 season, the team that scored first or took a lead into the third period won 61 per cent of the time.

    Through the first 18 games this season, 11 of the teams that scored first won, and 73 per cent of the time a team that has carried a lead into the third period has hung on for victory.
  • Eric Lindros did indeed step up nicely after Mats Sundin went down in the opener against the Sens.
    "I've haven't seen him with a fire in his belly like that in a long time," said one teammate. "It looks like he really means business."
    But in the game's opening period, Lindros was getting pushed around the ice- particularly by Zdeno Chara. 88 might have looked fired up at the end of the game, but he looked more like Bambi in the beginning.

  • Tonight's action
    BUF at OTT
    • The Sabres' website is all Flash, so I can't link to this. I can't even copy and paste it. But:
      The Sabres were 6-11-3 in the second of back to back games in 03-04 and in the 20 games they played back to back last season, they won both games on just four occasions.
      Also, Lindy Ruff said that he would not name tonight's starter until after the morning skate.
    • It's the home opener for the Sens, so it's hard to imagine Hasek not getting the start.

  • More notes coming later today...

  • UPDATE: Ran out of time today, probably no other notes to add...

10.07.2005
 
Friday Football
    The Writers' Week 5 NFL picks are up. The beach is currently tied for second place with CHFF. But take a look at our picks this week... We disagree 9 out of 14 times. On the flip side, beach picks agree nicely (11 of 14) with the first place Monsters of Midway. So there will be a lot of shaking up after week 5. I know I had a tough time with these picks.

    Only one more game to add tonight. I'm getting my ass kicked.

    ---------------
    TEN- The Texans finally showed up to play a game this year. It only took them until week 4. This was a much better looking team than the one that had taken the field for the 6 prior games of the 2005 pre and regular season. Their defense played very well, as I expected they would, against one of the top offenses in the game. Houston has a good coverage secondary and a physical front seven. If their DBs could play the run a little better, this unit would be good instead of above-average.

    The offense, too, was improved. The talk during their bye was that new offensive coordinator Joe Pendry had elevated the unit's tempo and intesity. It showed. The Texans also looked very good each time they tried to run-block straight ahead. Their linemen were more effective at it, and Dominick Davis is a better one cut runner, in the Denver Broncos/Atlanta Falcons style. With a quarterback as mobile as Carr is, there is no reason why the Texans' offense should not mimic the ones currently in Denver and Atlanta. All the personel is there. Jabar Gaffney had a solid game. TARGETS(catches): Johnson- 6(3), Gaffney- 6(6), Davis- 4(4), Wells- 2(2), Rivers- 2(0), Norris- 1(1)

    CIN- Even though the Bengals only scored 16 points, their offense was still very efficient. They just happened to be playing against a motivated defense that matched up well against them. Cincinnati did not turn the ball over and Palmer completed 73.5 percent of his passes. Chad Johnson did find that getting open against Dunta Robinson is a little more difficult than it usually is against other corners. He still caught 7 passes, but a few of those were quick hitches near the line of scrimmage. Not that those aren't effective, and not that CJ isn't the second best wide receiver in football. TJ looked great again. He pulled in 8 passes on 10 targets for 105 yards, and for the second week in a row, had a touchdown catch called back by a penalty. I still think this is the best offense in the league right now. Although the injuries they sustained against the Texans at center and guard are worth watching. TARGETS(catches): TJ- 10(8), CJ- 8(7), Perry- 6(4), Henry- 2(2), Kelly- 2(2), Schobel- 2(1), RJohnson- 1(0), JJohnson- 1(1)

 
Puck Periodic
    Still not sure exactly what I'm gong to put in this space. It's so much easier to find good info on football and baseball. Anyhow, as we find our way...

  • Lockout? What lockout. Wednesday's opening night filled league arenas across North America to a 98.1 percent capacity rate. And in Tampa, the Lightning sold 12 percent more tickets than what they consider a sell out. Upper level tickets being sold outside on the street were going for no less than $100.

  • Backup goalie Antero Niittymaki will start for the Flyers tonight against New Jersey. Niittymaki played for last year's AHL Champions, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

  • An interesting quote about Alexander Ovechkin:
    "People like to compare him to Mario [Lemieux]," one hockey executive who asked not to be identified said yesterday afternoon. "That's right in a sense because when Mario got to Pittsburgh [in 1984] he was expected to save the franchise. He did, but it took him five years to get the Penguins into the playoffs. Five years. People forget that.
  • Is there a new goaltender in Columbus?
    Marc Denis has been the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 goaltender for the last three seasons, but rookie Pascal Leclaire got the nod for Columbus in Wednesday night’s opener. Leclaire stopped 16 of 19 shots against the Caps in losing his third decision without a win in his brief NHL career. Leclaire beat out Martin Prusek for the backup job in training camp; the Jackets signed Prusek as a free agent on Aug. 4. Prusek had compiled an impressive 28-9-4 record and a 2.23 goals against average in three seasons as a backup with Ottawa. The Jackets used five different netminders in their nine preseason contests, and Leclaire was the most impressive of the three that actually had a chance to crack the roster. He appeared in a team-high five preseason games, posting a 2-1 record to go along with a 2.86 GAA and a .905 save percentage. Denis was 1-2 with a 4.69 GAA and an .859 save percentage in four games. Prusek wrote himself a ticket to AHL Syracuse by going 0-1 with a 7.74 GAA and an .826 save percentage in his two outings. Leclaire, the Jackets’ first-round choice (eighth overall) in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, made his NHL debut with Columbus in 2003-04. He went 0-2 with a 3.53 GAA in two games.
  • Don't forget that the BlueJackets were really strong at home in 03-04. 17 of their 25 wins that season came in Columbus. And against the Flames at home, they are 6-1-0-1.

  • The Hurricanes will have 21 year old rookie Cam Ward in net tonight against the Pens.

  • Ryan Miller will get his second start tonight for the Sabres against Boston.

  • I've resurrected one of my favorite links from the 03-04 season. http://www.forecaster.ca/cbc/hockey/index.cgi is a nice place to catch up on the night's games.

10.06.2005
 
Thursday Football
    Just one game to add for now. NHL's opening night has me behind in the schedule.

    NE- The closest thing I remember seeing a pass go to Deion Branch was right at the end of the first half when a ball in the end zone that was originally intended for Troy Brown was tipped and went through Branch's hands. In fact, I had to rewind the tape just to find which part of the game Branch's one catch did finally come in. And in searching for it, I realized that not only was I not seeing #83 in my limited tv camera view, but I also didn't really see Quentin Jammer. Based on that, I can only assume that either Jammer was owning Branch for much of the game, and/or the Patriots' offensive staff couldn't figure out any way to get Branch involved. He really was nonexistent. In turn, David Givens had a big game.

    The Pats line did a good job, considering they started rookies at LG and LT. But as a team, they did get away from the run a little too much in the second half. Dillon was running well when he did get his chances.

    There isn't much wrong with New England's offense, other than they don't have the best play caller in football working for them anymore. There are problems on defense though (see below).

    Also, Matt Cassell's INT wasn't really his fault. The pass was deflected coming out of his hand and went almost straight up before it was picked off and returned for a touchdown. Cassell did, however, launch a poorly thrown pass on his first attempt. It was a sideline route that looked like it didn't quite have the arm strength behind it to be considered an NFL caliber throw. TARGETS(catches): Givens- 10(6), Pass- 9(8), Brown- 6(2), Branch- 6(1), Dwight- 2(2), Watson- 1(1), Dillon- 1(1).

    SD- In a big game like this, it was interesting to see the San Diego come out early and try to get the ball into the hands of Darren Sproles as they did.

    The Chargers' offensive line was good enough when run blocking for LT and Michael Turner, but they weren't really tested by the typical New England pass rush. The Pats were most likely protecting against their problems in their secondary. Being cautious didn't help though. On the play that put the Chargers ahead 31-17, it was third and 7 from the NE 28 and Brees had enough time for Caldwell to sell his route all the way to almost the middle of the field before breaking it off to the corner of the end zone for a score. I'd be surprised if Brees was even knocked down for the entire game. The Pats just didn't come after him. The Chargers finished the game 7 for 12 on third downs. They also scored 40 points, and this is at New England. Wow.

    Turner, incidentally, continues to look great as LT's backup. If Tomlinson happens to miss any time, I wouldn't blink for a second in putting Turner into my lineup.

    LaDainian Tomlinson carried Monty Beisel for about four yards into the end zone on his first score, and on LT's second TD, he just blew Beisel up a yard before the goal line and rolled over him for the 6 points. No doubt, TJ Duckett has been smiling a lot this week.

    SD couldn't get much pressure on Brady. That's been a trouble spot for them and it looks like it continues to be a problem. The Chargers should also be concerned about their run defense. Over the last two weeks, both the Giants and the Patriots have been successful running wide, away from Jamal Williams. And now they have to face Willie Parker this Monday night. TARGETS(catches): Gates- 8(6), Parker- 4(4), LT- 4(3), Caldwell- 2(2), Sproles- 2(1), McCardell- 1(1), Neal- 1(1), Peelle- 1(1)

10.05.2005
 
Puck Periodic
    For the first time in 16 months, something meaningful will happen on the ice of NHL rinks all over North America.

    I'll be writing about plenty of stuff as the season gets going.
    But for tonight, a grand total of nine picks are posted in celebration of the season's opening.

    As a side note, I'm not very good at deciding which among the picks are best, but if pressed I'd say that Ottawa, Tampa Bay, and Atlanta are all pretty solid choices. In 2004, I had a nice record going (163-114) and the only reason I even started the coin flip challenge to begin with is because the lockout affected me so much that I started picking NBA games. With this new season, as no one really knows how things will start, all bets are... on,

    I can tell you that the Islanders are being undervalued against the Sabres. DiPietro showed in the '04 playoffs that he was ready to take the next step. The Canadiens also are a good value pick, even though they are on the road. Boston's team is very new, while the core of Montreal's club has been carried over. The Habs should be able to play an effective defensive style even with the new rules. They've got guys who can skate everywhere. The same can be said for Minnesota. Columbus should be a far better team than Washington this year.

    And so, finally, let it all begin.

 
Wednesday Football
    A friend of the Beach, DVR, pointed me to a couple of places that offer free target stats (one and two). Thanks for that.

    STL- The Rams came out throwing and never stopped. Of the 10 carries Steven Jackson did get, most were designed draws or delays, He was used, however, inside the red zone a total of 4 times and giving him 11 on the season. The Giants defense played a lot of the game with their corners 10 yards off the line and St Louis threw a lot of quick stops and slants to take advantage. New York's secondary has a lot of injuries and they seemed resigned to give those plays to the Rams. So yes, Marc Bulger threw 62 times but in Martz's partial defense, the Giants were really giving him 4 free yards through the air on most downs.

    St Louis has the kind of offense where they are vulnerable against opposing defenses who can provide pressure on the quarterback by just rushing their front four linemen. And the Giants did a good job in this game of doing just that.

    At half time, the Rams had 234 yards on offense and not a single one was gained on the ground (after accounting for yards lost by sacks). And while both the final score and the pace of the game were dominated by the Giants, St Louis really could have made this a game. Right before the half and down by 10, the Rams missed a 48 field goal. After the break, St Louis took the kickoff and drove 13 plays down to the six yard line before running some ridiculous reverse. Right there are 10 points they could have tied this game up with.

    So despite throwing 62 times and only rushing 15, St Louis held the ball for 32:04 (compared to NYG's 27:56). Yet it seemed that the more they threw, the more the Giants defense got comfortable defending against St Louis. All three of Bulger's INTs came in the second half.

    With Issac Bruce out, Dane Looker saw plenty of action as the fourth WR and played well. It was hard to tell if Kevin Curtis was the #2 WR out there or if it was Shaun McDonald. Most likely, they alternated. TARGETS(catches): Holt- 14(7), McDonald- 13(9), Looker- 11(8) ,Curtis- 7(6), Jackson- 8(5), Faulk- 5(3), Williams- 1(1), Hedgecock- 1(0), Robinson- 1(0).

    NYG- I was very interested to see how Burress picked up his 10 catches and after watching the game, I was impressed. Burress was used on all kinds of patterns. He's not just been someone Eli Manning can rely on, Burress has been a playmaker. Adam Archuleta misplayed the ball on Burress' first touchdown, but it was Plaxico's size that allowed him to shield off the Rams' safety. Burress only made one catch in the second half. He was thrown to 6 times, catching one pass, having another called back on offensive interference, and then drawing defensive interference on another play. While it looked like the Rams were making an effort to contain Burress a little better in the second half, he still was made a few plays that didn't show up in the box score. This was the second straight shootout the Giants have been in. If they ever get this defense sorted out, New York is going to make some big time noise.

    Amani Toomer took in a red zone score, and Jeremy Shockey beat Archuleta in single coverage for his 31 yard TD. Burress picked up 4 RZ looks, but Barber was the team leader with 8. TARGETS(catches): Burress- 17(10), Shockey 10(4), Barber- 4(2), Toomer- 3(3), Shiancoe- 1

    ---
    BUF- The Bills came out and put together a decent enough touchdown drive to start the game. They went 75 yards on 10 plays. McGahee ran well and Losman did his best Michael Vick impression and the Bills were up 7-0. For the rest of the game, Buffalo gained a total of 101 yards. Losman continues to look terrible. He's showed little rhythm in making his reads, missing throws everywhere, and he runs running out of the pocket at the first sign of pressure- and sometimes even when there is no pressure.

    Losman's first INT was another case of him having just absolutely zero feel for his deep throws. Like I mentioned last week, J.P. just sort of wings it out there hoping his guy runs under it. It didn't help that Buffalo faced third and long all game. After that opening drive, the Saints defense would put 8 in the box on first down, play base on second, and then blitz on third. McGahee had just 50 yards after the first drive, and the Saints just let Losman do the rest.

    Still, down by just three, Ryan Lindell missed a 45 yard field goal with less than two minutes left in the half. The Saints took the ball and kicked a field goal on their own. And with just seconds remaining, Terrance McGee returned the kickoff 82 exciting yards all the way to the four yard line just before tripped and fell with time expired.

    Kelly Holcomb came in a couple of minutes into the 4th quarter but it didn't do anything to help the Bills. I don't think there should be a QB controversy here. Losman hasn't shown much, and Buffalo needs to find out if this guy is their future. Their defense is soft without Pat Williams and now Takeo Spikes and their season is over. So they might as well find out what they have with Losman. TARGETS(catches): Moulds- 6(2), Evans- 3(2), Smith- 3(0), McGahee -3(2), Shelton- 2(0), Reed- 1(1), Williams- 1(1), Campbell- 1(0), Neufield- 1(0)

    NO- Aaron Brooks played a real smart game against Buffalo. He ran with the ball when it helped the team, and stayed in the pocket at times when he needed to. The Saints had zero turnovers, and Brooks was in control of the offense for the entire game. Donte Stallworth had a big game, but I don't think he can be the team's #1 guy for the long run. Stallworth is a perimeter guy and while he did catch a couple of balls over the middle, he was wide open for both against spread out zone coverage. Duece McAllister looked much better than he did last week, carrying the ball 27 times. He also got 9 red zone chances.

    A good home crowd really helped here too. The Bills picked up multiple penalties aided on by the noise. With 11:14 left in a 7-13 game, the Saints defense stopped Buffalo on third and 1 and again on fourth and 1 at midfield. But with 5 minutes left in the 4th when the Saints had a chance to put the game away, they had to settle instead for a 20 yard field goal. The New Orleans defense played well and with McAllister had his best runs of the game on the team's last drive. TARGETS(catches): Stallworth- 11(8), Henderson- 3(1), Conwell- 3(1), McAllister- 3(2), Karney- 1(1), Smith- 1(1), Hall- 1(1)

    ---
    MIN- Not much to say here. Minnesota did the same thing last week but this time they were playing a much better defense. When you look at these numbers, consider that the first catch made by a WR came almost five minutes into the second half. The Vikings have a bye this week. Troy Williamson has 7 catches and 2 TDs over the last two games. TARGETS(catches): Taylor- 8(5), Moore- 8(6), Williamson- 5(4), Robinson- 4(1), Wiggins- 3(3), Kleinsasser- 2(2), Bennett- 2(2)

    ATL- Up 7-0, with third down and 9 to go from the Vikings' 25 yard line, the Falcons ran Dunn on a shotgun draw. Dunn took the exchange but then fumbled as he stiffed armed past a lineman. He had so much room around him, however, that he was able to calmly gather the football and run just enough of the nine yards he needed to get the first down. And that pretty much summed up the rest of the game Atlanta had against the Vikings. The Falcons just showed up, ran their offense and went home with a victory. This game looked like the equivalent of a starting pitcher throwing a complete game by just throwing his fastaball the entire time.

    I'm sure Vick would have played more had this game been a real contest. Also, Dunn's 36 yard touchdown run was just sick. The Vikings brought a blitz on first down into the right side of the Falcons' offense (and the wrong side if you're playing against Michael Vick). The play had Dunn running to the left, so already he had three Vikings beaten. He got into the second level easily and then undressed Corey Chavous with a double move 10 yards away from the line of scrimmage. Good down field blocking by his receivers allowed Dunn enough room to just squeeze into the end zone. TARGETS(catches): Crumpler- 8(3), Finneran- 5(3), White- 4(2), Jenkins- 1(1), Griffith- 1(0), Dunn- 1(1), Blakely- 1(1)

10.04.2005
 
Tuesday Football
    Things to follow through this week and on:

  • Rumors are circulating that Mike Tice is about to resign, but this doesn't say such. The Vikings are on their bye this week.

  • Ahman Green has knee injury and his status is uncertain.

  • Willie Roaf looks to return this week.

  • In Jacksonville's loss to Denver, the Jags offensive line struggled (and that's an understatement). Coach Del Rio has promised changes

  • Mark Bradley is officially the Bears' #2 WR- something we saw coming last week.

  • Michael Vick will start this week against the Pats. If Minnesota had not rolled over for the Falcons, I suspect Vick would have been able to return.

  • Willie Parker is starting too, even though Bettis and Staley are healthy.

  • Antrelle Rolle is out for the season.

  • The Niners may go with Alex Smith at QB.

  • Carnell Williams, and really no one saw this coming, is uncertain for this week's game. It's being speculated that his hamstring injury was cause by compensating for the minor foot problem he developed last week.

  • The Seahawks' receivers are banged up, and there is a possibility that Peter Warrick will start in place of Bobby Engram this week.

  • Nate Burleson should be back after the bye.

  • From PFW's The Way We Hear It:

    • BAL- OL coach Chris Foerster was blunt in his assessment of its performance. “I don’t really want to be quoted on saying we did a whole lot well, because we haven’t,” Foerster told PFW. “We haven’t moved the ball as much as we need to. We haven’t run the ball. We haven’t scored points. In my responsibility as line coach, we’ve got to do our jobs better.” No personnel changes are imminent, Foerster said.
    • DEN- We’re told the move to elevate rookie CB Darrent Williams into the starting lineup in place of Lenny Walls was something head coach Mike Shanahan wanted to do in the preseason. Yet the coach held off until Week Three, trying to give the second-round pick a chance to prove himself when it mattered. Teammates such as SS John Lynch have been equally impressed and suggest that Williams, who missed Week Four with a sprained ankle, benefited by not having to deal with huge expectations.
    • CHI- Expect to see the Chargers use more of a no-huddle approach with their offense in the near future. After having success with it at times last year and using it sporadically in the first two games, San Diego went without a huddle almost exclusively against the Giants in Week Three. The main reason is the comfort level it provides. It’s not to be confused with a two-minute drill, as the Chargers are not in a rush to snap the ball, but rather a way of allowing QB Drew Brees to make the calls at the line of scrimmage and use more shifts to keep defenses on their heels.
    • CHI- It appears to be only a matter of time before the Bears expand the roles of their top two draft picks, RB Cedric Benson and WR Mark Bradley. According to team sources, Benson was informed that he can expect double-digit touches as the change-of-pace backup to Thomas Jones beginning this week.

  • And from Whispers:

    • A source close to the Texans reports QB David Carr was positively “giddy” in the week leading up to the Oct. 2 game at Cincinnati. Carr seems to be taking to the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Joe Pendry.
    • Extremely satisfied with the way Michael Bennett handled both his demotion from the starting lineup and the team's request for him to cover kickoffs and punts, head coach Mike Tice has left the door wide open for Bennett to reclaim the starting RB job from Mewelde Moore. Both backs are injury-prone, and Tice doesn't want either to view himself as being out of the mix.
    • TE Bryan Fletcher, who caught a 24-yard pass on the Colts’ opening drive in Week Four, has moved past Ben Utecht on the Colts’ depth chart. Fletcher is an ever-improving blocker with very good hands and athleticism. We hear the Colts see him as a closer clone to Marcus Pollard than Dallas Clark, who has been disappointing since returning from a concussion.
    • Keep an eye on Colts WR Marvin Harrison’s left wrist. The painful injury prevents Harrison from catching the ball cleanly, but it also has been an issue for Harrison getting a release from the line of scrimmage. Teams jam Harrison, and he can struggle to break free without the use of his hands.
    • Teammates and coaches alike believe that Chiefs WR Eddie Kennison is playing the best football of his career and has really improved in terms of making things happen after the catch.
    • Team observers in Tampa have noticed that a rock in the team’s locker room, which became a symbol for the Bucs’ “pound the rock” offense during their Super Bowl run in 2002, has reappeared. In the last few years the rock, which is housed on a shelf in the locker room, had been neglected and was covered with Gatorade cups and other debris. But we hear that since the Bucs have started fast, the garbage around the rock has been cleaned up, and the rock has been given respect once again.

10.02.2005
 
Sunday Football II
    I had this written from earlier in the week, but somehow forgot to post:

    CLE- The Browns are playing good football. They're not trying to do things they can't do well and Trent Dilfer is really doing a good job at getting the football out of his hands. Antonio Bryant had a good game against the Colts, with 7 catches on 10 targets. Braylon Edwards went 4 for 7, and Frisman Jackson was just 2 for 3. Steve Heiden picked up 2 catches on 2 passes, as he's still the #1 TE on this team. Dilfer completed 75.9 percent of his passes and the Browns converted 6 of 14 third downs.
    IND- Okay. It's time for Tom Moore to add something new to this offense. Defenses are using against the Colts a variation of 3 deep and something I'll just call for now a 2 and a half deep zone. They are forcing Manning to drive the length of the field on 8+ play drives and thereby shortening the game and for the most part, avoiding a shootout. The Jags did this to the Colts last year and had great success. New England too. Now it seems, everyone is doing it and it's time for Indy to add something new. The Colts are 3-0, so it's not like they are in trouble, but the ground game needs to be more explosive in order to bring those three deep players back towards the line of scrimmage. Brandon Stokely had just 1 target against the Browns, Reggie Wayne had 6, and Marvin Harrison had 8. The tight ends played big role against the Browns, with Dallas Clark earning 4 passes (including one inside the red zone) and impressive looking Bryan Fletcher catching 2 passes on 2 targets. The Colts have Tennessee, San Fran, St Louis, and Houston before their week 8 bye, so I don't think they're going to do too much to change until then. They can easily do what they're doing and be 8-0 or 7-1 before they face the Pats in week 9.

    Also, beware of the Texans and the Lions today. Dominick Davis, Tony Hollings, and/or Jonathan Wells should combine for 35-40 carries today. And the Bucs weakness on defense (nickel and dime coverage) is a strength for the Lions.


ON THE BEACH
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